Question: The good feeling is uncomfortable - what to do?

T, modified 1 Year ago.

Question: The good feeling is uncomfortable - what to do?

Posts: 279 Join Date: 1/15/19 Recent Posts
Hi everyone!

Even if I'm not meditating and I decide to follow the breath for a couple cycles while doing anything, and direct attention to how the breath feels for the whole body, it is very giddy-inducing in a physical sense. Sometimes I'll just do it because I know I can - pop it on for a moment or two and be like "yea, that was cool. Felt kinda orgasm-y, " then move on. 

When I'm meditating, I'll work with the breath in that way but try to ignore the physical sensations of this and focus instead on the background movement kind... whooshy-ness of the breath underlying the "oh lord.. .that feels..good but also kind of uncomfortable for sustained periods." They are really strong and almost uncomfortable. I'll sit with them for four or five breaths and then redirect my attention because I kind of can't take it. 

Advice? Do I need to just "keep on keeping on" through them? I was working through TMI and it warned not to get sucked into the pleasure as a distraction, but am I doing it wrong and avoiding something useful to move up to the next jhana (assuming this is a factor...)?

Thank you!

T.
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Milo, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Question: The good feeling is uncomfortable - what to do?

Posts: 365 Join Date: 11/13/18 Recent Posts
Assuming you are using jhana factors rather than visual nimitta to navigate the jhanas, based on your description. See if you can sense two 'frequencies' in that feeling. There should be the high frequency pleasure feeling (Piti) and a 'low frequency' background afterglow (Sukkha). Seperate those out and tune into the sukkha while toning down piti to move into the 3rd jhana.
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Question: The good feeling is uncomfortable - what to do?

Posts: 984 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
T:
Hi everyone!

Even if I'm not meditating and I decide to follow the breath for a couple cycles while doing anything, and direct attention to how the breath feels for the whole body, it is very giddy-inducing in a physical sense. Sometimes I'll just do it because I know I can - pop it on for a moment or two and be like "yea, that was cool. Felt kinda orgasm-y, " then move on. 


What happens if  you are in a situation that is unpleasant, either physically or psychologically and you "pop it on for a moment or two"? Does it change your change your experience of the situation so that it is no longer unpleasant?


When I'm meditating, I'll work with the breath in that way but try to ignore the physical sensations of this and focus instead on the background movement kind... whooshy-ness of the breath underlying the "oh lord.. .that feels..good but also kind of uncomfortable for sustained periods." They are really strong and almost uncomfortable. I'll sit with them for four or five breaths and then redirect my attention because I kind of can't take it. 

Instead of redirecting your attention, can you split your attention and devote just enough attention to produce the pleasant feeling at a low level that feels good without making it so high that it is uncomfortable?  


Advice? Do I need to just "keep on keeping on" through them? I was working through TMI and it warned not to get sucked into the pleasure as a distraction, but am I doing it wrong and avoiding something useful to move up to the next jhana (assuming this is a factor...)?

Thank you!

T.

You get to the next jhana by letting go of the factors of the jhana you are currently in. So you have to let go of the intense pleasure to get to the higher jhanas.

But I don't think you have to worry about getting "sucked into the pleasure as a distraction". You already know too much is not pleasant.

And the sutras say this kind of pleasure is not something to be afraid of:

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.036.than.html
"Maha-Saccaka Sutta: The Longer Discourse to Saccaka
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
...
I entered & remained in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. Could that be the path to Awakening?' Then following on that memory came the realization: 'That is the path to Awakening.' I thought: 'So why am I afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensuality, nothing to do with unskillful mental qualities?' I thought: 'I am no longer afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensuality, nothing to do with unskillful mental qualities"

Buddha taught that jhana (samatha) and vipassana should both be developed. So the problem is not really too much pleasure, the problem would be lack of vipassana. One purpose of the pleasure is to make some of the unconfortable aspects of vipassana more tolerable.


https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/onetool.html

One Tool Among Many
The Place of Vipassana in Buddhist Practice
by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
...
In the few instances where [the sutras] do mention vipassana, they almost always pair it with samatha — not as two alternative methods, but as two qualities of mind that a person may "gain" or "be endowed with," and that should be developed together.
...
So the proper path is one in which vipassana and samatha are brought into balance, each supporting and acting as a check on the other. Vipassana helps keep tranquillity from becoming stagnant and dull. Samatha helps prevent the manifestations of aversion — such as nausea, dizziness, disorientation, and even total blanking out — that can occur when the mind is trapped against its will in the present moment.

From this description it's obvious that samatha and vipassana are not separate paths of practice, but instead are complementary ways of relating to the present moment: samatha provides a sense of ease in the present; vipassana, a clear-eyed view of events as they actually occur, in and of themselves. It's also obvious why the two qualities need to function together in mastering jhana. As the standard instructions on breath meditation indicate (MN 118), such a mastery involves three things: gladdening, concentrating, and liberating the mind. Gladdening means finding a sense of refreshment and satisfaction in the present. Concentrating means keeping the mind focused on its object, while liberating means freeing the mind from the grosser factors making up a lower stage of concentration so as to attain a higher stage. The first two activities are functions of samatha, while the last is a function of vipassana. All three must function together. If, for example, there is concentration and gladdening, with no letting go, the mind wouldn't be able to refine its concentration at all. The factors that have to be abandoned in raising the mind from stage x to stage y belong to the set of factors that got the mind to x in the first place (AN 9.34). Without the ability clearly to see mental events in the present, there would be no way skillfully to release the mind from precisely the right factors that tie it to a lower state of concentration and act as disturbances to a higher one. If, on the other hand, there is simply a letting go of those factors, without an appreciation of or steadiness in the stillness that remains, the mind would drop out of jhana altogether. Thus samatha and vipassana must work together to bring the mind to right concentration in a masterful way.

...

Samatha and vipassana belong to the category of the path and so should be developed. To develop them, one must apply appropriate attention to the task of comprehending stress, which is comprised of the five clinging-aggregates — clinging to physical form, feeling, perception, mental fabrications, and consciousness. Applying appropriate attention to these aggregates means viewing them in terms of their drawbacks, as "inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a dissolution, an emptiness, not-self" (SN 22.122). A list of questions, distinctive to the Buddha, aids in this approach: "Is this aggregate constant or inconstant?" "And is anything inconstant easeful or stressful?" "And is it fitting to regard what is inconstant, stressful, subject to change as: 'This is mine. This is my self. This is what I am'?" (SN 22.59). These questions are applied to every instance of the five aggregates, whether "past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle, common or sublime, far or near." In other words, the meditator asks these questions of all experiences in the cosmos of the six sense media.

This line of questioning is part of a strategy leading to a level of knowledge called "knowing and seeing things as they actually are (yatha-bhuta-ñana-dassana)," where things are understood in terms of a fivefold perspective: their arising, their passing away, their drawbacks, their allure, and the escape from them — the escape, here, lying in dispassion.


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T, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Question: The good feeling is uncomfortable - what to do?

Posts: 279 Join Date: 1/15/19 Recent Posts
What happens if  you are in a situation that is unpleasant, either physically or psychologically and you "pop it on for a moment or two"? Does it change your change your experience of the situation so that it is no longer unpleasant?

I just gave it a shot. I was trying to do my job while my wife was also trying to carry on a text conversation she felt was important, and I felt some real aggravation and stress arising. I sat and composed myself for a moment, and went with it. The annoyance and aggravation very much became background "noise" and I was aware of it, certainly. However, my immediate experience was of enjoyment... expansion.. in the sense of a jellyfish kind of form. My heart was joyous and felt as if it were swelling. The aggravation was still hovering in the back, certainly, but predominantly it was this joy, giddiness, and expansion of heart; as if it were literally filling and could burst. Somewhat of an overwhelming feeling. Then I stopped and I still have some annoyance but... whatever. Ya know?

Instead of redirecting your attention, can you split your attention and devote just enough attention to produce the pleasant feeling at a low level that feels good without making it so high that it is uncomfortable?  

I gave this a whirl this morning and again just now. Giving this some attention (similar to what Milo said above) made it possible to kind of ignore the vibratory excessive-ness of what was uncomfortable and made the experience more like how a jellyfish appears. Very flowy and billowy - or perhaps how a ghost might appear if it were increasing in volume very slowly. Soft, billowy, expansive and contractive depending on the breath. Very calm, but very enjoyable. 

You get to the next jhana by letting go of the factors of the jhana you are currently in. So you have to let go of the intense pleasure to get to the higher jhanas.

Roger that. I guess I'll figure out how to do that as I sit here billowing.

Not to turn this into a practice log - but while I was doing this in sit this morning, I had a vision of my mother at a funeral home having makeup and such applied. She was clearly deceased (is actually alive) and being prepared for an open casket service. Anyway - this was obviously disturbing, but I stayed in the flowy expanse and relaxation and... it was fine. Disturbing, sure... but an observed experience of a coming reality. I stayed with the chill in spite. 

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